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We spend most of the year living in Chiang Mai Thailand enjoying a relaxed lifestyle. I’m often asked “When is the best time to go to Chiang Mai?” I always reply, “Between November and February!” These months coincide with high season, a time where tourists from all over the world flock to Chiang Mai to sample all that this vibrant city has to offer.
- 1 When is the best time to visit Chiang Mai?
- 2 Where is Chiang Mai?
- 3 Travel to Chiang Mai
- 4 Chiang Mai in November
- 5 What is the Loy Krathong Festival?
- 6 What is the Yi Peng Lantern Festival?
- 7 Chiang Mai Festival Events & Activities
- 8 New Years Eve in Chiang Mai
- 9 Chiang Mai Flower Festival
- 10 Songkran in Chiang Mai
- 11 Where to stay in Chiang Mai
- 12 Visit Chiang Mai
When is the best time to visit Chiang Mai?
For us it’s great to catch up with old friends who return each year to make Chiang Mai their home during the cooler months. For these devotees, the laid back charm of Chiang Mai keeps them coming back time again to experience the fun and festivals that make Chiang Mai World famous.
Another popular month to visit Chiang Mai is April. Chiang Mai weather heats up and it’s time to join in the fun of the world’s largest water fight as Thailand celebrates Songkran, the Thai New Year.
Where is Chiang Mai?
Chiang Mai is located in Chiang Mai Provence and is the largest city in Northern Thailand. Being in the north, the Chiang Mai climate is milder than other parts of Thailand, this makes it a more comfortable for overseas visitors. In Chiang Mai November weather cools down as winter approaches, making for more pleasant daytime temperatures and cooler evenings.
Chiang Mai’s cultural mix of historical and modern make it a holiday destination that will satisfy all members of the family.
Travel to Chiang Mai
A short flight from Bangkok, Chiang Mai has a well-appointed International and Domestic Airport. The Airport is serviced by International and local Airlines.
If you have more time the train journey from Bangkok to Chiang Mai takes around 12-14 hours and a great way to see the landscapes of Thailand.
Bus is another popular way to get from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, there are many bus companies with different levels of comfort.
Chiang Mai in November
November is the best season to visit Chiang Mai, the Loy Krathong Festival and Yi Peng Lantern Festival have the city alive with flowers and light. If there is a time when you MUST come to Chiang Mai, this is it!
What is the Loy Krathong Festival?
The Loy Krathong Festival is held every year on the full moon of the 12th month of the Thai lunar calendar. This date usually falls in the month of November. Because the festival is taken from the Thai lunar calendar the date of the Festival changes every year.
A Krathong is a beautiful floating offering decorated with flowers, intricately folded leaves, incense and candles and placed into Chiang Mai’s Old Town moat or Ping River (Mae Ping). The offerings are to celebrate the end of the rainy season and to ask for the forgiveness of the Water Goddess.
Placing a Krathong into the river is a very moving experience, to some it is a symbol letting go of misfortune and a sign of hope for the coming year. There is nothing more enchanting than watching hundreds of candlelit flowers floating down the river.
What is the Yi Peng Lantern Festival?
The Yi Peng Lantern Festival is World famous and once seen it will be something you will never forget. Thousands of lanterns fill the night skies over Chiang Mai, an endless stream of shimmering light, a magical sight to see. Chiang Mai is in a party mood, the sky is a blaze with fireworks and there is a feeling of goodwill everywhere.
Chiang Mai Festival Events & Activities
There are many fascinating events and activities, taking place during these festivals.
Colourful parades, cultural performances, beauty contests and handicrafts displays are some of the events on offer and an interesting way to learn more about the people and culture of Chiang Mai.
One of my favourites is the hot air balloon contest. So much time, energy and imagination goes into creating these elaborately decorated balloons, and it gives so much pleasure to see them soar high above the skies of Chiang Mai.
Christmas in Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai in December is a surprise, while Christmas is not formally celebrated in Chiang Mai, you will find many businesses embracing the holiday spirit by decorating their shopfronts, and playing Christmas Carols.
Popular venues for Christmas lunch are The Red Lion Pub in the Night Bazaar area, Le Meridian Hotel and the Shangri La Hotel, there are many others but it is important to book early as seats sell out. Last year we did not book and didn’t find a place until mid afternoon.
New Years Eve in Chiang Mai
Everyone loves a party and Chiang Mai on New Year’s Eve is no exception. You will find restaurants and bars packed with New Year’s Eve revellers.
Popular areas for celebrating are the very trendy Nimmanhaemin Road area and in and around the Old City. If you have a particular venue in mind book early.
Chiang Mai Flower Festival
Chiang Mai in February is a treat if you adore flowers. The Chiang Mai Flower Festival has the city awash with colour, with flower’s in full bloom everywhere. The highlight of the flower festival is the flower parade where highly decorated floats take to the streets, a spectacular sight to see.
The Chiang Mai Flower Festival has a stunning display of flowers, beautiful girls, music, and dance, making it one of the top things to do in Chiang Mai.
Songkran in Chiang Mai
Songkran or Thai New Year is the most celebrated festival in Thailand, held every year on the 13th to 15th of April and another MUST SEE in Chiang Mai.
Songkran is FUN, so much fun! A Festival where you get to relive your childhood in one of Thailand’s largest water fights. Get out your water pistols, super soakers and buckets and be prepared to get wet and stay wet, with temperatures around 35 degrees Celsius you will be more than happy to cool off.
Songkran is a time for families to get together. Traditionally families splash water over each other to give blessings and wishes for the coming year. Songkran is also the time to pay homage to Buddha, many visit the Wat (temple) to pray and wash the images of Buddha for good luck and prosperity for the New Year.
As you can imagine with all that water you do need to take extra care during Songkran. Make sure you have your phone and other valuables in a waterproof container because they WILL get wet.
Where to stay in Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai hotels sell out fast during Festival and high season so make sure to book early. The best location to stay in Chiang Mai can be split into three different areas, the Old City, Night Bazaar and the trendy Nimman area. Here is a guide to some of the best hotels in Chiang Mai.
Chiang Mai Old City
The Old City is bordered by a water filled moat and is the spiritual and cultural heart of Chiang Mai. The Old City is home to many ancient Buddhist temples, including the impressive Wat Chedi Luang and stunning Wat Phra Singh. For anyone interested in learning more about Lanna culture and history, a visit to the museums at the Three Kings Monument is a must. The Old City is a shopping and entertainment paradise, with a huge choice of restaurants and bars, traditional food markets and the famous Sunday Walking Street Market.
The Tamarind Village’s mix of traditional and modern Thai decor, lush tropical gardens and friendly welcoming staff create an oasis amid the bustling Old City of Chiang Mai. The Tamarind Village is within walking distance to all Old City tourist attractions.
For a traditional taste of Chiang Mai, we recommend the Tamarind Village Chiang Mai.
Chiang Mai Night Bazaar
This area would be my choice for the those visiting Chiang Mai for the first time. Within walking distance to the Old City, the Night Bazaar area is a hive of activity. In the evening, the night markets extend down Chang Klan Road with stall holders selling a huge choice of traditional curios, clothing and souvenirs. The area is full of restaurants and bars, live entertainment and the place to unwind with a Thai massage.
Le Meridien Chiang Mai
For location, Le Meridien Chiang Mai can’t be beat, situated right in the heart of Chiang Mai’s Night Bazaar area. The beds are comfortable and the rooms are bright, airy and clean. The Staff are friendly and welcoming. The Le Meridien Club lounge has perfect service and views overlooking Doi Sutep. Le Meridien’s has a choice of dining options and their Sunday buffet lunch is legendary.
For a fantastic Hotel in a great location, we recommend Le Meridien Chiang Mai Hotel.
Nimman is the trendy area around Nimmanhaemin Road. This area is full of coffee shops, restaurants and bars and is popular with young Thai’s and tourists alike. The area is close to two shopping Malls, the very modern Maya shopping mall and the older more Thai influenced Kad Suan Kaew. Both have cinemas, supermarkets and food courts.
U Nimman Chiang Mai Hotel
Just like the Nimman area, the U Nimman Chiang Mai has a young vibrant vibe. Bright splashes of colour add a touch of glamour to this trendy modern hotel. With friendly Staff, rooftop pool with views overlooking Maya Shopping Mall, this hotel can’t help but be a winner.
For a up to the minute style, we recommend the U Nimman Chiang Mai Hotel.
Visit Chiang Mai
I love Chiang Mai at any time of the year and hope I have inspired you to visit this vibrant city and meet it’s warm and friendly people.
Now you know the best time to visit to Chiang Mai, I hope you will come to see the top things to do in Chiang Mai.
I’ve probably left out some information about these festivals. What information can You give about Chiang Mai’s Festivals and events? Add your comment below.